UN chief: Achievement of MDG targets, fight against drugs "must go hand in hand"
In the lead up to the United Nations' high-level summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday said efforts to achieve the development targets and to fight illicit drugs "must go hand in hand."
"We must recognize the major impediment to development posed by drug abuse and illicit trafficking," he said in a statement to mark the upcoming International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, to be observed this Saturday.
The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was established in 1987 by a resolution of the UN General Assembly, in which member states committed to fighting the global drug problem and illegal drug trade. The theme for this year's global day of observance is "Think Health, Not Drugs" -- emphasizing the importance of a healthy lifestyle in the greater fight against drug abuse, Xinhua reported.
Ban's message highlighted the devastating effects of drug abuse on health and on disease epidemics, citing injection drug use as a leading cause of the spread of HIV.
"Drug control -- including prevention and measures to reduce the harmful effects of drug use -- is therefore an important part of the battle to combat HIV/AIDS," he said.
In states where the rule of law is weak, illicit drug trafficking further undermines governance, resulting in an increase of drug-related crime and greater instability, said Ban.
"To break this vicious circle, it is essential to promote development in drug-growing regions. In seeking to eradicate illicit crops, we must also work to wipe out poverty," he said.
Meanwhile, Ban noted "recent worrying trends" in parts of West Africa and Central America exposing the threat of drug trafficking on security and state sovereignty.
The secretary-general's message comes as a UN Office on Drugs and Crime report, released in Washington on Wednesday, found evidence of increasing illegal drug use in developing nations.
The UNODC's 2010 World Drug Report highlighted the instability and underdevelopment in West Africa, whose countries have become transit hubs for cocaine trafficking.
"West Africa remains particularly exposed, and the region will continue to face serious potential threats to governance and stability as long as transnational contraband markets are not addressed," said the report.
In his statement, Ban urged member states to fully implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, as well as the UN Convention against Corruption in order "to strengthen integrity and reduce the corruption that facilitates drug trade."
The secretary-general called on all states to renew their collective efforts in fighting the global drug problem.
"On this International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, let us reaffirm our commitment to this shared responsibility within our communities and among the family of nations."